A year ago, my mother died a few days before her birthday, so this has been a difficult week of memories of the saddest time of my life. I had an interview, unavoidably, on her birthday, which was difficult and, perhaps not surprisingly. unsuccessful. I wasn't at my best. Yet sometimes such difficulties are revealing.
The interview partly concerned my plans for my next substantial piece of writing, which will be about trees. Or so I thought. In wanting to express to the panel why it matters to write this, I found myself rambling, avoiding the issue, not wanting to voice what I really wanted to say, and then one of the questioners cut me off and it remained unspoken. But I walked away from the interview understanding that what I need to write is an elegy. Mum's name was Hazel and from her, I inherited my love for and fascination with trees.
In the woods, a tree lives, dies, stands dead, then falls. Throughout, it gives life to fungi, lichens, mosses, insects, birds and mammals. At it disintegrates, it continues as a home for others, eventually nurturing the next generation of trees.
My mother is buried in a woodland graveyard. A year on, I know her body is reintegrating with the earth. I'm still carrying her around with me, aware of what she'd be advising, what she would approve of, how she would like things to be carrying on. She's still looking after us all.